Saturday, February 19, 2005
If this were a song, I'd have been singing it in my head (who are we kidding? My internal monologue these days is all too vocal. I would have been singing out loud) the other night as we stood looking in at the swimming pool, checking for water (sometimes there is none) and crowd levels.
Yes, the water was there in sufficient amounts for swimming. Crowd? Too quantiferous for us to swim. Not that there was an overwhelming number of people swimming, it's just that the people present were situated in such a way as to make swimming laps (in the almost world-wide accepted manner) virtually impossible. I've categorized the various groups of 'swimmers' below in an attempt to paint a picture of this phenomenon.
Track Stars. These swimmers are track runners at heart as their laps more closely resemble those of a track runner than a swimmer. They make circular, oval, rectangular or square laps about the perimeter of the pool.
't'-Crossers. These swimmers are like the cross on a lower case 't'. Their laps, while made in similar fashion to our version of a lap, are oriented along the shortest axis of the pool instead of the long axis. And always in the shallow end. My research has not been intensive enough to draw any detailed conclusions, so I remain uncertain if these swimmers are kicking the water or bouncing off the bottom of the pool. Based on their almost lack of forward progress I am guessing the floor has at least minimal involvment. Although maybe unlike me they actually float, so anything is possible.
Children. The kids I saw seemed to fall into one of two groups. Those with an inner tube, and those without. Both groups added to the general melee in the pool by way of splashing and endless meandering about the shallow end. Bobbing movements were used to break the monotony of splashing and harassment of fellow pool denizens.
Beginners. These swimmers could be categorized as 't'-Crossers if not for 2 small distinguishing characteristics. An inner-tube about their mid-section (which really isn't helpful in proper stroke development), and an orientation towards the middle of the pool rather than the shallow end.
Flailers. This brave group of individuals combines characteristics of the 't'-Crossers and Beginners and add in a flair of their own. Oriented towards the middle of the pool (and invariable in a path sure to cause a collision with the Beginners) they make the same short lap as the 't'-crossers. Their stroke, while reminiscent of the 'forward crawl', has a definite flailing look to it. Their heads never fall below the surface while their bodies hang almost perpendicular to the surface of the water, with their heads swinging violently from left to right following their wildy windmilling arms.
All of the above groups share some common traits. Rest stops are frequent and consist of: face rubbing; spitting (loogeys) and blowing their noses usually over the edge of the pool (sometimes not quite missing the water); goggle and swim cap adjustment; heavy breathing; staring at the funny white folk. I saw no one make more than one 'lap' without a rest. Not that I am mocking anyone for being out of shape (hello Pot, this is Kettle talking....), it's just riotous. It really is.
Hoppers. A popular past-time in the pool with those not interested in actually swimming is hopping back and forth in jagged lines all over the shallow end of the pool. At one point, all the kids and a couple cross-lappers joined in with the Hoppers and the entire shallow end was saturated with bobbing bodies. It looked neat, but produced a veritable minefield for a person trying to swim a true lap.
This is why my sister and I opted to skip our evening's swim and go eat instead. And what makes the whole thing more amusing is to watch my sis get all worked up about it (especially since she goes to swim to ease her stress!). The people working there laugh because she won't swim in a busy pool and they don't understand why!
And it's not like this pool is undeveloped. There are hooks from which to hang lane lines. To mark off where to swim laps. You could even rope off half the pool and corral the kids and Bobbers to their own section of pastureland. When no one was looking, I began to untie the ropes of flags hung above the water, my intention being to set up lane lines with them. Unfortunately, this cause quite a commotion (people continued to remain in place and stare, as they'd been doing since I walked into the pool area) and my sister gave me a stiff shove into the water to stop me. Something about "I live here and know these people. You are emBARassing me! Again!" Geez, someone is a little touchy.
Having friends who swim has given my sis insight into this phenomenon. One friend, when confronted with the asinine manner in which people swim, offered as her defense: "But I'm scared of the deep end!" Hooah!
I am bummed I missed out on one group of individuals, the Competitors. This group is characterized by Chinese men brave enough to enter the deep end and make a true lap (though maybe they enter this group only during their track lap?). Their purpose is to race my sister and show their superiority. The thing is, my sis swims something like 4,000 laps without rest. These guys wait for her and swim one lap. And sometimes win, their celebration waiting until after they hack out a bit of lung and catch their breath. Funny.
No longer will the pool here get to see my sister or I in our swim gear. Why? Keep reading.
My sister went swimming this morning but I passed on the adventure because I have a tickle in my throat and swimming in that sanitary-free pool seemed like a bad idea. From what sis just told me, it was a wise choice. Since no one showers before entering the water and no chemicals are used to maintain sanitary conditions in the water, a nasty funk tends to form on the sides of the pool, at or above water level. At least they clean the funk. Unfortunately, they embarked upon this venture while the pool was full of 'swimmers'. The cleaner guy wored large rubber gloves; he used the pool water and a sponge soaked in pure bleach to scrub away the gunk. Undiluted bleach. The man cleaning knew enough that he should wear gloves and avoid contact with the stuff, but didn't further that thinking and realize that maybe people shouldn't swim in it either.
God save the queen, ya know?